Jump Start # 2791
Ephesians 5:17 “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Understanding—that’s an important key to life. Products we buy come with instructions. The reason, so you can understand how to properly use those items. Education is about learning and understanding. Training classes are about understanding. All through our lives, we are learning and understanding things.
Years ago, we were in Vienna on vacation. We took a taxi out to the massive city cemetery. We wanted to see the graves of the great composers. We walked and walked and walked and didn’t know which direction even to go. We couldn’t understand the signs. We asked a few people that we saw but they didn’t understand English. Finally, I saw a lady and I held out my hands as if I was playing a piano and said, “Beethoven?” She immediately understood and pointed us to what is known as “Composers Corner.” Understanding.
Our verse today reminds us that we can understand God’s will. It is not impossible. It is not beyond us. There are different kinds of understanding.
First, there is a natural understanding. When a baby cries, one immediately knows something isn’t right. You may not know if the baby is hungry or if he needs changing, but one thing you know, he’s not happy. We don’t have to explain cold. One knows where they are cold. We don’t have to explain pain. We know hurt. Some things are just naturally understood.
Second, some things take training to understand. I know a few doctors. They are smart. They have a mind that remembers which medicine is needed for which problem. Now, they didn’t just naturally get those smarts. As a two-year-old, they likely were about like all two-year-olds. But through the years they applied themselves. They went to school. They studied when everyone else was out playing. They worked and worked to get where they are. The same could be said of a mechanic, an engineer or really most any of us in our fields. My wife is gifted at playing piano. Now she has an ear that can hear perfect pitch which likely was a gift from God, but she studied music for years. She’s trained. And, all of this training comes with the price of being disciplined.
Third, for something to be understood, it must be presented in an understandable manner. There are some things that can’t be explained. The “why’s” of life are often beyond understanding. Why did the storm hit one house but not another? Why did one person get cancer and another did not? Job had a lot of questions about why things happened the way it did.
So, when it comes to God’s word, we begin with some basic concepts that are helpful for us.
First, God’s word can be understood. That’s what this passage is saying. Why even read the Bible if a person cannot understand it. The task is not impossible for us.
Second, God has written the Bible in an understandable manner. The language Jesus spoke was the common language of the common people of Judea. His words are not complicated. We don’t find the crowds leaving, scratching their heads and running to find dictionaries so they could understand Him. They understood. They often didn’t like the application and what they were to do, but they certainly understood it. The first disciples were fishermen and housewives. They were not the rabbis, the university men, those in intellectual circles. No. They were just everyday people. They could understand the Lord.
Third, it helps to further our understanding by having some training. Allow God to explain Himself by looking at how He uses words in different places. Understand how those words were used back then rather than how they are used today. Get you a couple of good translations and read passages from them and most times you can get a good feel of what it means by looking at words in different translations.
Fourth, the understanding takes us to the application and doing of what a passage says. Information is fine, but what good is that information if it does not help you or change you? Not understanding the Bible leads to people not following the Lord. But once we understand, we then need to obey. Knowing and not doing, moves from an information problem to an attitude problem. You know what you ought to do, but you won’t do it. That could be pride issue. Could be you are stubborn. Could be you just like where you are. And, sometimes that’s where we are with people. It’s not a matter of not knowing, it’s a matter of not doing. And, we can teach and teach and inform and explain all day long. We wonder why there is no visible change? The reason is not the head, but the heart. They don’t want to. And, until the heart is engaged, the mind simply gathers more information.
Understand the will of God. Do you know what God wants you to do? He’s got expectations for you. Once you know, are you doing those things? Head and heart—much too often they are not going the same direction.